Jailed Russian mathematician given 4 more years in prison for ‘justifying terrorism’

Azat Miftakhov in court. Photo: Ilya Vaga / It’s My City

Azat Miftakhov in court. Photo: Ilya Vaga / It’s My City

A court in Yekaterinburg sentenced Russian mathematician Azat Miftakhov to four more years behind bars on Thursday after finding him guilty of justifying terrorism for a conversation he allegedly had with fellow inmates, a group campaigning for his release reported.

Miftakhov, who is an anarchist, was immediately re-arrested in September upon his release from the Kirov region penal colony where he served his 2021 conviction for throwing a smoke grenade into a Moscow office of the ruling party United Russia in 2018.

The new charges follow supportive comments allegedly made by Miftakhov to fellow inmates while watching a news report about Mikhail Zhlobitsky, a student who blew himself up in an FSB office in the Arctic city of Arkhangelsk in 2018 in protest at the domestic intelligence agency’s alleged torture of anarchists.

Miftakhov pleaded not guilty to the charges, telling the court that the evidence against him was “falsified … just like five years ago” and that his case revealed the “terrorist nature” of the Russian government.

“While fake witnesses argue that I justified terrorism, state television channels call for the mass murder of those who disagree with the government’s policies,”

Miftakhov said, calling Russian domestic and foreign policy a “conveyor belt of killings and intimidation”.

The ongoing persecution of Miftakhov, who in August was added to the Russian government’s list of “extremists and terrorists”, has been repeatedly condemned by mathematicians around the world, with over 3,400 signing a petition calling for his release in 2021. In 2019, human rights group Memorial recognised Miftakhov as a political prisoner.

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